A Gym Ball can be used in many different ways to help improve balance and core strength. It can be used to perform movements that involve your entire body whilst maintaining your centre of gravity. It is a great way of mixing up your training and the four methods of training described below can help you use it more appropriately and get the most out of your time in the gym.
Pelvic Tilt Drills e.g. Gym Ball Reverse Curls
Lying on your back hold the gym ball between your legs and lift your lower back of the floor while keeping your upper back and head on the floor. Lower your torso back to the ground slowly and repeat. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
Benefit: These exercises directly work the rectus abdominis and therefore play a role in adjusting pelvic tilt especially reverse curl drills as these primarily recruit the fibres of the external oblique- they are great for posture compared to normal “ab curls.”
Recommendation: Use reverse curl drills if you have a downward tilted pelvis (anteriorly rotated).
Bracing and Dynamic Bracing Drills e.g. Gym ball Figure of 8’s
Come up to a bridge position with your feet on the floor and elbows on a gym ball. With the arms perform a figure of 8 with your elbows unbalancing the ball with your abs braced. Perform 8 in one direction followed by 8 in the opposite direction 3 times.
Benefit: Bracing through the core is vital for lower back stabilisation. When you have achieved basic core endurance (40 seconds) there is a need to make the exercise more dynamic e.g. a press up. Anything more than 45 seconds on the basic drills is not necessary for strength development around the abdominal region. A good method of torso training providing it is coached appropriately, be careful of the upper back rounding if tight through the chest and shoulders.
Hip Extension Drills e.g. Ball Bridges
Place your feet on the ball keeping your legs straight. Lift your hips up off the floor creating a straight line in the body with your shoulders on the floor. Perform 20 lifts 3 times.
Benefit: Maintenance of the endurance capabilities of the back extensor and gluteals group will help maintain safe spinal position. Most individuals will benefit from these types of exercise.
Rotation Drills e.g. Walking Lunge with Gym Ball Rotation
Step forward in to a lunge bending both knee to 90 degrees and maintaining a straight torso. Rotate to the side that you have stepped forward on, rotating the torso. Step on to the opposite leg changing the side of rotation. Perform 3 sets of 12 repetitions on each side.
Benefits: Integrates rotational movement in to exercise so is functional in perspective. Challenges unilateral strength and stabilization. Sufficient stability around the hip and lumbar spine needs to be developed as well as upper back mobility. It is best to have a good level of torso strength and stability before attempting these more advanced drills.
When you are next in the gym give some of these exercises a try in additional to your regular workout. After a few weeks you’ll notice a more toned and lean you.